Attorneys for Belize Waste Control (BWC) and Belize City Council (BCC) met in the chambers of Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana on Monday, over a court judgment for $2.3 million that the BCC has failed to pay and for which Mayor Darrell Bradley could be cited for contempt of court.
The debt has been outstanding since 2005, when BWC won an arbitration award against the City Council..
In February, BWC began court proceedings to have Mayor Bradley arrested on a committal warrant for the Council’s failure to pay the debt.
Since then, the case before Justice Arana has been adjourned twice, as the parties attempt to come to an amicable resolution.
Justice Arana has adjourned the case to July 17, and when the parties return to court, BCC is to present a schedule of payments for its debt to BWC.
Following the hearing, attorneys for both parties spoke to reporters.
Michael Young, S.C., who is representing the Belize City Council , said that there was a report to the judge on what the City Council thinks is a way forward, but the proposal, which was submitted in the form of a letter, was rejected by Belize Waste Control. a
Young said that he considers BWC’s rejection of the Council’s offer to be “unfortunate.”
He added, “The position then is that the application for the committal of the Mayor is still outstanding, and if that case were to come up, I’m going to stand there in defense of the Mayor and the Council and defend them as is fair according to the law.”
Mr.Fred Lumur, attorney for BWC, said there was a promise by the BCC to submit some proposals for consideration, but it was only last Friday that the Council submitted a letter.
Lumor said the council’s letter has basically done two things:
“Firstly is to set conditions for complying with a court order basically saying that ‘we are prepared to raise some money from Central Government to pay you’ but ‘you have to write off $1.3 million plus the cost of the action’ through discussion and setting objectives from the City Council.”
“Secondly, there is not specific items that have been identified to us that they are asking Belize Waste Control to buy with $1.3 million – so basically we are to write off that amount to discuss certain objectives.”
Lumor added that the Council’s letter is not only patronizing, “it’s smoke.”
“No businessman will allow a Municipal Authority to set conditions for complying with a court order to pay money that they owe,” Lumor pointed out.
Young said, “They are saying that they do not wish to pursue these discussions that we have recommended. It’s really for them a question of collection of the balance of the judgment debt. But really the proceeding before the court would be an application for the committal and sequestration of the Mayor and his property.”
Lumor, however, said, “It is not the interest of Belize Waste Control to see anybody punished or fined. We want a municipal authority to obey a court order. The court order is to pay the judgment debt forthwith April 2nd, 2012.
At the heart of the City Council’s woes with BWC is a fat service contract which was signed way back in the days when David Fonseca was Mayor.
The contract awards large monthly sums to Belize WasteControl which the City Council has found to be extremely burdensome.
The contract has been written in such a bullet-proof way that it binds the City to make these payments, like it or not.